Before knowing about my cancer I had planned a trip back to Nashville to visit Libby, Eric and grandson Liam. There was no reason to cancel this as my surgery would not be until later. Really, it seemed like more of a reason to go then ever. Seeing all of them was the main purpose for visiting but birding, during migration, in decent weather, was another highlight. I wouldn't be able to add any new birds to our count because Rudy wasn't with me, but he was going to be in Nashville a few weeks after me. If we got to see the same type of birds during our two visits, we were going to add them.
We hit the ground running. I had a night flight that arrived on the morning of September 22, was picked up from the airport by the gang, and we headed straight out to Shilo National Historical Park. It was a beautiful day. Libby and I got another stamp in our National Park Passport. There was a cannon firing demonstration so we watched that. Liam loved running around the grounds and the recreated Civil War campsite. We took the driving tour around the monument following the interpretive markers. What could be better? We came back via the Natchez Trace Parkway--got another passport stamp there too--and even though we weren't really birding we saw turkey vultures and wild turkeys. Liam did great the whole time with the long car ride. It was a wonderful day.
Sunday was church, great worship and word and a very tasty lunch in Franklin. Back at their home I checked off a tufted titmouse, Carolina chickadee, black vulture, northern mockingbird, one ruby throated hummingbird at their honeysuckle and an eastern bluebird. BBQ for dinner and more great weather. This is a good vacation.
Monday we all went to the Discovery Center in Murfreesboro. It's a kids museum that Liam loved. Libby and I left Eric and Liam to continue playing inside while we went out to take their nature trail. We were on the hunt for wood ducks. There had been numerous reports of them being seen there and all year I'd been trying to find them. Well success, we found them in their pond. They are an amazing bird-colors are crazy and so distinct. We also saw a blue jay along with turtles and frogs. We ate at Chick-Fil-a for lunch and then back home for Liam's nap. I got to finally see a cardinal in their back yard..
My last day was Tuesday-I was flying home that afternoon-so Libby and I got up very early to be at Radnor Lake just after dawn. Eric and Liam stayed home. Here is where fortune smiled on us. We were at the spillway observing what I thought were swifts soaring overhead. There was a nice man with binoculars there and I asked him what birds those were and he said, without hesitation, chimney swifts. Bingo! We let him know we weren't really familiar with the birds in the area and he pointed out a few others. He was meeting another birder friend and they let us tag along with them. With their help we saw a black-throated green warbler, Carolina wren, rose-breasted grosbeak-that was a big deal for me, Tennessee warbler, red-bellied woodpecker, Coopers hawk, magnolia warbler, white breasted nuthatch, black and white warbler-another one I had hoped to see, gray catbird and some amazing Carolina redstarts. We saw many other birds too, these were just new ones for me. It was fall migration and we were in heaven. We would have never been able to add these to our list without these birdmates. They had to go off to work but we were so fortunate to have the time we did with them. Libby and I finished off with continuing the trail around the lake. We had hoped to see the barred owl but didn't but we did see wood ducks again. It was one of the best birding days ever. After that, back to the house where we picked up Liam and Eric and headed for the local park for one last romp with Liam, then to the airport for the farewell to a short but very sweet visit.